UK businesses can profit from cleaner design

Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials

ISSN: 0003-5599

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




(2004), "UK businesses can profit from cleaner design", Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials, Vol. 51 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

UK businesses can profit from cleaner design

UK businesses can profit from cleaner design

Keywords: Hazardous materials, Electronics industry, Legislation, UK

New EC legislation on waste electrical and electronics equipment and hazardous substances has serious implications for companies in the UK electrical and electronic sector. The Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment (WEEE) Directive and the Restriction of Use of certain Hazardous Substances (ROHS) could hit UK companies hard.

At a recent conference in London, Government agency Envirowise demonstrated how UK businesses can profit from cleaner design, whilst avoiding the legislative pitfalls.

The Directives on WEEE and on ROHS not only affect the design considerations of electrical and electronics companies, communications and computer manufacturers, but they will also have a far-reaching financial, management and marketing impact on the whole sector – and in particular for SMEs.

Dr Martin Gibson, Envirowise's Programme Director commented: “Many firms still believe that WEEE and ROHS legislation is not relevant to them. In fact the legislation for both becomes law in just nine months – with the collection of WEEE becoming effective 12 months later. Most companies in the sector are affected and those who wait to take action will be far too late. Many SMEs could find themselves sitting on a time bomb that they are too late to respond to. The longer they delay before taking action, the more costly it is going to be. Many companies, especially small ones, could go out of business unless they start to take action now”.

Dr Gibson added: “Key to the survival of successful companies will be the incorporation of cleaner design into products”.

Because of the requirements for product compliance, the cost of re-design and payment for compulsory industry wide recycling arrangements, failure by companies to address the issues could have a knock-on effect throughout the supply chain and a far-reaching financial impact on the whole sector.

Already it is estimated that the future estimated costs of the EC legislation to the UK economy could be as much as £455 million a year for WEEE and £200 million a year for ROHS legislation. This could lead to an average cost increase of 1-2 per cent for many products and as much as 3 or 4 per cent for some larger or more complex products.

The conference is part of a major campaign by Envirowise to draw attention to the multi-million pound impact that the legislation will have. The conference is co-hosted by Electronics Weekly and Intellect – the UK trade body for information technology, telecommunications and electronics industries.

These sectors employ more than 1 million people and contribute approximately 10 per cent of the UK's GDP.

Other speakers at the event included: Joy Boyce, Head of Corporate Environmental Affairs, Fujitsu Services and JackieDowns, Consultant to the DTI on WEEE and ROHS.

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